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GEORGE BROOKS SUMMIT/Spirit and Spice: The thing you're going to like most about this set is that it's completely nuts. A solid jazzbo with free jazz leanings and world beat interests that isn't afraid to share the spotlight with a bunch of game raising players, Brooks brings the 60s into the 10s with a smoking world/groove date that would find Paul Horn and Paul Winter running for cover if you blasted it at them. Genre twisting and groovealicious, this is visceral jazz for the over educated who won't be able to stop themselves from bobbing their heads and jimmying their legs. Flat out wonderful throughout.

ROB STONE/Back Around Here: It's taken the singing harp man 7 years to find a hole in his schedule large enough to blast out some west side inspired blues that sound like second generation real deal. Without his usual crew, this set is something of a contemporary all star extravaganza, at least for those who dig Chicago blues that hit it hard core. Keeping it in the tradition like he's nactherl born on Maxwell Street, Stone does it old school without homage, nostalgia, kitsch or over reliance on iconography. Trust me, Big Walter is smiling down on this overdue set.

CHRIS JAMES-PATRICK RYAN/Gonna Boogie Anyway: Oh, these white boys frat roots are showing. These were the guys that grew up loving Otis Day and the Knights and probably took their lives in their hands venturing to the Dexter Lake Club to check it out on their home turf. There were some white boys that weren't afraid of bad neighborhoods and the locals let them pass as they were there for the blues (the the economic health of the clubs and neighborhoods). As urban hard core as aging white boys can be, the spirit of the blues being belted out here will keep this sound out of the museum. Killer stuff that'll give any party the kick in the pants it needs.

ANDY COHEN/Built Right on the Ground: Yo! This is the Jewish college kid that played college coffee houses in the 70s wanting to be Leon Redbone. We don't know what he's been up to in the last 40 years, but he's become Leon Redbone, in the prime years, not the commercial sell out years. Basically playing and singing on his lonesome, his old man voice and John Hurt picking are a gas. Showing love equally to Bobby Charles, Memphis Minnie, and diverse others, Bonnie Raitt should check this out to have a back up ready for the day Taj Mahal can't catch his breath. It might be ultra low key but it really smokes.

LES COPELAND/Don't Let the Devil In: Earwig seems to be on a rampage to revive 70s college coffeehouse music. Copeland has been Honeyboy Edwards touring sidekick for 14 years and you can hear his finger picking here isolated and front and center. Coming to the blues like Bonnie Raitt, via bottleneck guitar, this is the guy that got all the girls the manqué could never draw back in the day when they were all spinning their takes of hard living on the road, loving girls and gambling. Very reminiscent of Pentangle solo records when Bert & John were deep in their blues phases, today this is a left of center, low key very solo Americana record that isn't afraid to let it's deep roots show. The deluxe edition of this set (if there ever is one) should come with blue lights and cigarette smoke. Hot stuff.

TIM WOODS/The Blues Sessions: A white boy with the blues that has an affection for Willie Dixon comes with a sound that would have been at home on the roots music portion of the Andy Griffith Show. Rollicking, easy and sneaking peaks at the underlying fire within, Woods knows his way around a blues studio and a blues festival and he delivers just what you'd want to find at the roadhouse at the edge of a college town in the Midwest where kids that know how to boogie still like to kick out the jams well into the weekend night. Fun stuff.

GRADY CHAMPION/Back in Mississippi Live: Granted it's a Chicago thing, but how did Alligator let this slip through their fingers? The youngest of 28 kids from a Mississippi farm, Champion certainly had the chutzpah not to want to live in dirt and rough it when he could harp his way out. Solidly, smack dab in the middle of the blues tradition, he does some slight of hand to make this right for whitey's ears, but it's the real deal throughout. With youthful vigor powered by a desire not to go back to farming, Champion lives up to his name. This is a wily, smoking set of real blues that's authentic without that unvarnished old school thing. It's like he grew up listening to Willie Mitchell's non-Al Green sides. You're gonna love this as it throws away all the blues clichés and leaves you the real meat. A winner throughout.

PINEAPPLE THIEF/Someone here is Missing: Standing on the corner where prog meets emo and commercial success is rushing by, the Thief comes in with his most compelling set yet that should send pretenders running for cover. Exactly the kind of set the hard core waits for over a period of years so they can say "I toldja so", PT is in the here and now with a solid set of teen angst that flows from Nick Drake into dark edges and varied sounds. Wild stuff for disaffected youth.

JACAM MANRICKS/Trigonometry: Here's a new sax man you can't argue with. Whether working as a player or an educator, this is one busy cat that knows how to walk it like he talks it and knows how to deliver an all original set that keeps you right in the pocket. Skillfully played and never with any false notes, Manricks is a creative, thinking cat that makes solid contemporary jazz that right at the edge of not being sitting down jazz, but wine and sunsets go with this session so well that it's not worth splitting hairs. Mind freeing and ear opening, this is solid date that's hard to pass up.

Volume 33/Number 216
June 5, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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